Mount Allison students launch dessert, cryptocurrency businesses through University’s entrepreneur internship program
SACKVILLE, NB — This summer, five Mount Allison University students will receive funding for entrepreneurial projects through the Heather Reisman Internship program. Four of the interns will work together on an Asian-flavoured dessert business and the fifth intern will be immersed in the world of cryptocurrency.
Rebecca Nguyen Do (biology and Commerce), Corinne Hisey (chemistry), Serena Chiu (Fine Arts), and Cynthia Dyck (Commerce) have banded together to form Fiore di Cactus. They’ve received $15,000 so they can introduce to Sackville such treats as bubble waffles and bubble tea.
Initially, the group considered starting a fashion business, but they quickly decided that wasn’t how they wanted to contribute to the Sackville community.
Nguyen Do recalls the conversation that sparked the idea of a dessert business.
“We realized there aren’t any dessert places in Sackville,” she explains. “I said, ‘I’d love a crepe right now.’”
Bubble waffles, a childhood favourite of Nguyen Do, will be the first Fiore di Cactus offering, available at the Sackville Farmers’ Market this summer. The long-term plan is to expand the menu and offer ongoing opportunities for student employment.
Another aspect of the vision is to create a place where dessert-lovers can enjoy fine art along with their sweets.
While Fiore di Cactus is busy creating their delectables and figuring out their business model, Maryse Arseneau will be crafting and debugging code as she launches her new business, Link Blockchain Technologies (LBT). She plans to use the $10,000 she received to develop a website where users can build cryptocurrency tokens. She will also be finishing an application that will make it easier for people to transfer value from one cryptocurrency to another.
Right now, there is no easy way to assign a fixed value to a cryptocurrency token, relative to other tokens or to conventional currency. The application Arseneau is developing, which she calls the Peg Protocol, promises to be a game-changer because it bridges the existing market to the crypto economy.
“I’ve always been interested in cutting-edge technology and the crypto world is really fascinating,” says Arseneau. “Crypto currency decentralizes wealth— that’s what I like about it. If you and I want to exchange money, the bank doesn’t have to be a medium between you and me.”
Arseneau, who had a previous career in investment advising, is excited about the opportunity to start building a business of her own. Her long-term goal is to make LBT a solid business that supports not only herself but also two or three employees.
“The internship allows me the possibility to start my own business and gives me the opportunity to create a career for myself,” she says.
The Heather Reisman Entrepreneurship Internships are funded by a gift from the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation. Heather Reisman (LLD ’10) is the founder, chair, and CEO of Indigo. The program began in 2016 with intern Rachel Mathis. Mathis used the internship to help launch and grow her own company — Invigorate Leaders. Invigorate runs leadership and innovation programming for high-potential high school students throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The internship program continued in 2017 with Broken Bridge Apparel, and the founding of Bagtown Brewing Company.
For information about the Reisman Internship program, including a video interview with two 2017 interns, visit https://www.venturespacemta.com/reisman-intro.
Photo captions: Three members of the Fiore di Cactus team. From left to right, Cynthia Dyck, Serena Chiu, and Rebecca Nguyen Do. Missing from the photo is team member Corinne Hisey.
Link Blockchain Technologies (LBT) founder and Mount Allison student Maryse Arseneau.